Alright! I still reside within a whirlwind but the mania has ebbed enough that I am finally able to report on this year’s Visible Verse festival; unpacking but most of the boxes are gone. I worried that I wouldn’t pull it off in the middle of moving house but apparently I did, according to the feedback. “Magnificently curated” and “best one yet” typical of the response.
Well, I better know what I’m doing after 14 years. And I can’t believe it’s been that long! Visible Verse started out as the Vancouver Videopoem Festival and a program of the Edgewise ElectroLit Centre way back in 1999, our first outing at Video In, now known as VIVO. We moved to Pacific Cinematheque the next year and begot Visible Verse as the Edgewise ElectroLit Centre expired in 2002. Videopoetry and poetry film festivals and sites continue to pop up all over the world. In addition to the esteemed Zebra Poetry Film Festival in Berlin and Video Bardo in Buenos Aires, the Filmpoem Festival and Liberated Words have recently emerged in the UK, along with Ó Bhéal International Poetry-Film Competition in Ireland, Motionpoems in Minneapolis, Cyclops Poetry Film Festival in Kiev, Ukraine and the Body Electric Poetry Film Festival in Fort Collins, Colorado. Visible Verse is proud to maintain our position as North America’s sustaining venue for artistically significant videopoetry and film.
Organizing the festival is a painstaking process which involves previewing over 200 entries. Thus, the cull begins. We always get heaps of experimental film and many submissions that are too long. I can’t understand why people take the time to submit their work but not to read the guidelines, because it’s obviously a waste of time, for everyone. And money, if we charged an entry fee.
We’re populist and strive for inclusiveness but the work must must meet the criteria, a wedding of word and image, in essence. Innovation, authenticity and a strong voice are more vital than a big budget. Treatments run the gamut and videopoems are as diverse as the poets that create them. Every year we are in danger of getting bogged down in semantics and a long discussion of “What is a videopoem”? Doesn’t “videopoem” say it all? Seems pretty clear to me but hey, I’m no expert, nor arbiter. I just know what I like and always reply, when asked to define the term “videopoem,” that I know one when I see one. I could theorize ad nauseum but simply don’t have the luxury or time. Another question that came up; is it possible to convey a narrative through images alone? I think it’s difficult but certainly within the realm of possibility, though again, may or may not constitute a videopoem or poetry film.
The selection process involves more viewing to the point where I’m familiar with each selection. Only then can I program the programme. Bearing in mind the tone, theme and length of each videopoem, I put them in order, the most critical part of the process. With the festival’s growth it’s becoming more difficult to include everything that I would like, so, I agonize and make some very tough decisions.
The 2013 programme included national and international poets and artists including Shane Koyzan, Kathryn MacLean, Taien Ng-Chan, CR Avery, Kirk Ramdath and Swoon Bildos. We received a lot of excellent work from the UK and Ireland. The visible word must have gotten out over there in a big way. We were fortunate to host poet, filmmaker and founder of the Body Electric Poetry Film Festival R.W. Perkins, who travelled from Colorado to facilitate Literary Movement, an engaging and informative artist talk on process and the integration of filmmaking techniques. Later we screened his more recent work, Morning Sex & Blueberry Pancakes and Small Talk & Little Else, RW’s droll sense of humour enthusiastically received.
Maybe I’m getting better at delegating but I was relieved to receive a lot of support and encouragement. The staff and volunteers at the Cinemathque were outstanding, especially Shaun Inouye who made sure everything was transferred properly and looked and sounded well on the big screen. Several people volunteered to document the event. Tom Weibe kindly lent his talents and took photographs as did poet Wally Keeler, visiting from Cobourg, Ontario, who videotaped Literary Movement . My son helped immensely with the arduous task of downloading all the selections and edited the festival trailer as well. We have our own website at last, thanks to Monica Miller. Visible Verse.com.
We must work on promotion as well. Social media helps and the festival was listed well in the local papers and featured in the North Shore News, lovely weather and a pretty good turnout, “the best yet,” including featured artists, Blair Dykes, Ray Hsu, Michael James Park, Soressa Gardner and Daniela Elza. Poetry is such a hard sell and the festival is actually more well known internationally than in Vancouver where people tend to take for granted the city’s art and culture. And I’ll never understand why cinephiles and filmmakers wouldn’t be intrigued by the idea of a poet working with moving images. Surely it could inform their own work. C’est la vie. I persist. I’m stubborn, “weed-ish” as renowned filmmaker Al Razutis says. He also remarked that the festival and its rich content is an “amazing gift to Vancouver.” And that is one of the major perks, the opportunity to meet and work with incredible artists from all around the world.
Take a gander at the “wonderful program.” Most of these can be found on the Internet with a little googling. Enjoy!
Underground No One Famous/Blair Dykes Vancouver, BC 2011
Language of Desire Kathryn MacLean Edmonton, AB 2013
When Walt Whitman Was a Little Girl Jim Haverkamp Durham, NC 2012
Lapis and Centaurs Frank Müller Hamburg, Germany 2013
Something Keith Sargeant/Charles Bukowski poem London, UK 2012
Day Is Done Swoon Bildos Mechelen, Belgium 2012
Textual Assault Placards Wally Keeler Cobourg, ON 2012
Last Words of the Condemned Diane Arterian Los Angeles, CA 2013
‘1-poem-6′ Pablo López Jordan/Vangelis Skouras London, UK & Murcia, Spain
Like So Alan David Pritchard Isle of Wight, UK 2011
I thought I was more memorable James O Leary Cork, Ireland 2013
Camel Matt Robertson Vancouver, BC 2013
Suburban Sylph of Crying Owls Gavin Jones North Yorkshire, UK 2013
PDA Kal Estrel Kingston, UK 2012
Onion of Love Kirk Ramdath Calgary, AB
Covered In Grass Aaron Samuels Cranston, Rhode Island
expect something and nothing at once Michelle Elrick Winnipeg, MN
Morning Sex & Blueberry Pancakes R.W. Perkins Fort Collins, Colorado
On Meeting A Fox Janette Ayachi Edinburgh, Scotland
Full English Christopher Stewart Middlesbrough, UK
Not Death but Love: Tracing the Heart of Elizabeth Barrett Browning Gerard Wozek/Mary Russell
With Only My Hands Sergej Bezuglov/ Zakaryia Amatoya/Cece Nobre Bangkok, Thailand
Crow Morphologies Tara Flyn/Daniela Elza/Soressa Gardner Vancouver, BC 2013
Through The Eyes of the Wind Adam Jacobs/Forrest Casey Golden Valley, MN 2012
Futures of the Past Ray Hsu/Michael Parks/Chloe Chan Vancouver, BC 2013
To This Day Shane Koyzan Pentiction, BC 2013
Requiem for Lithium Jason Staggie Capetown, South Africa 2012
Small Talk & Little Else R.W. Perkins Fort Collins, Colorado 2013
Thief Behind The Mask CR Avery Vancouver, BC 2013
Love Gang Tara Evonne Trudell Las Vegas, NM
The Poet Is Artificially Removed Jordan Abel Vancouver, BC
I Love The Internet Kevin Barrington Dublin, Ireland
Rhythm of Structure John Sims New York, NY
Appraisal Melissa Diem Dublin, Ireland 2013
From Within Alexandre Braga Lisbon, Portugal 2013
Orange Taien Ng-Chan Montreal, QC 2005
Innisfree Don Carey Dublin, Ireland 2013